Sunday 10 December 2017

Urban setting for new CBeebies drama Apple Tree House

The show is set on a multicultural inner city estate.

By Joe Nerssessian

A new urban drama is about to be unveiled on children’s channel CBeebies.

Apple Tree House is set on a multicultural inner city estate where friends Mali, Sam and Bella embark on adventures together.

CBeebies controller Kay Benbow said the show will be “very different” for the channel, but its urban setting will be familiar to many young viewers.

“Apple Tree House is a window into a wonderful, contemporary world with compelling stories around the themes of friendship and community,” she said.

“Sam, Mali and Bella’s sense of fun and curiosity in the world around them really comes across.

“It’s set in an urban environment that many young viewers will recognise and it’s so important that we reflect the lives of all children across the CBeebies portfolio.”

In Monday’s opening episode, new friends Sam and Mali embark on a mission to find fruit for Mali’s Grandma Zainab’s Magnificent Mango Pudding – while in Tuesday’s episode Mali is worried about starting at a new school.

It is Ramadan in Friday’s episode and Sam is determined that the children will have their own dinner party, just like the adults, but finds it hard to accommodate everyone’s needs.

The original idea for Apple Tree House came from actor William Vanderpuye who voices Zoomer and other characters in CBeebies show Rastamouse.

He wanted to create a show which reflected the way the world is seen through the eyes of children growing up in families who had moved to the UK – and he worked with Maria Timotheou and Akindele Akinsiku to use reflections on their own childhoods to inspire the drama series.

Gregory Boardman, of production company Five Apples, said they also wanted child actors who could “reflect the authenticity of the characters”, adding: “We weren’t really looking for stage school kids.”

Nearly 1,500 children were seen by the casting team who went into schools and community centres and used social media “to reach into areas that we wouldn’t normally reach”.

Eventually eight-year-old Aamir Tai was cast to play Mali, who moves to the inner city estate where he meets the caretaker’s daughter, Sam (played by Miranda Sarfo Peprah, also eight). Both are new to acting.

Aamir said: “I hadn’t done any acting before, but I really enjoyed playing Mali and making new friends.

“I especially liked the adventures with Grandma Zainab as it reminded me of my own grandma at home, who can’t wait to see me on TV!”

Summer Jenkins, seven, stars as their friend Bella, while Mr Vanderpuye plays Sam’s father Kobi.

Apple Tree House is on CBeebies on weekdays at 5.35pm from Monday.

Press Association

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